Book Two: The Devil of Dunakin Castle

Right up front – let’s agree on the facts. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of both of these books in exchange for an honest review. And I’ve always been up front that I won’t sugar coat things, and I won’t agree to a minimum number of stars for a book. If you wrote a 1 star book, I’m going to give it a 1 star rating. Reviews are subjective, and personal to each individual reviewer.

Scandalous RDB (1)

Sorry guys. I wasn’t given a picture of just this cover by itself.

The Devil of Dunakin Castle

Englishwoman, Grace Ellington, has made a home in Scotland, but to escape from the meddling people around her who seem to think she needs to wed right away—because women need saving, right? —she volunteers to journey north to aid a friend in childbirth. 

Keir MacKinnon, the younger brother of the MacKinnon clan chief, has been raised to strike fear in people, on and off the battlefield. Trained to uphold MacKinnon law, he has hardened into a lethal warrior. Caught in a Highland blizzard with the feisty Grace, Keir realizes the beautiful woman who saved him can also save his nephew’s life. 

Sparks fly when he takes her against her will to his home, and Grace’s courage is put to the ultimate test. Is Keir MacKinnon the passionate, kind man she saved in the Highland blizzard, or is he truly the cruel executioner who seeks to solve all issues by the sword?

✭ ✭ Purchase links ✭ ✭
Amazon: https://goo.gl/treaUE
B&N: https://goo.gl/GS6mFj
iTunes: https://goo.gl/WZ4oMv
Kobo: https://goo.gl/oSw4yc
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/6pCSte

So, about this book. Let me say that my ARC had formatting issues, and that made it difficult to read the book. I don’t believe that to be a fault of the author, however, and that will not affect my feelings toward the book.

Like the last book, I had a hard time buying the premise of this book. First of all, this involves kidnapping. While the heroine acknowledges that she’s been kidnapped, it’s otherwise fairly well glossed over. And sure, maybe it was for a good cause – the man’s nephew appears to be dying, after all.

And yet… I enjoyed the book. I like spirited, fiesty Grace. I liked her for leaving behind a life of wealth and privilege in England. I further liked her for recognizing her own worth. I enjoyed getting to know Kier, although he was a bit watered down. It was almost as if, in humanizing him, he just became someone other than who he was meant to be. I don’t actually know how to explain it.

There’s quite a bit of foreshadowing involved, and the bad guy is obvious from the first mention of his name. Despite the obviousness, the situation wasn’t easily resolved, which I enjoyed. I like to see people actually fight for their Happily Ever After.

I’ve not previously read anything by Heather McCollum, but I’m tempted to go back and read the others. I would definitely recommend this one.

✭ ✭ ✭ About the Author ✭ ✭ ✭

Heather McCollum

Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical and YA paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay, and was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist.

When she is not picking her teen’s brain for authentic attitude for her YA books and finding time to write, she is usually found educating women on ovarian cancer symptoms. Ms. McCollum has recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own hero and 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.

Connect:
Site: http://www.heathermccollum.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4185696.Heather_McCollum

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Book One: Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night

Right up front – let’s agree on the facts. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of both of these books in exchange for an honest review. And I’ve always been up front that I won’t sugar coat things, and I won’t agree to a minimum number of stars for a book. If you wrote a 1 star book, I’m going to give it a 1 star rating. Reviews are subjective, and personal to each individual reviewer.

DbDMbN

Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night

Georgiana Rutherford, the Duchess of Hardcastle, seemingly has it all—wealth, pedigree, and the admiration of the ton, except her heart hungers for a passionate affair. She meets the enigmatic and ruthless Mr. Rhys Tremayne, a man known to low and high society as the Broker. The attraction between them is impossible to deny, but she cannot be feeling it for this man. 

Rhys Tremayne has built his wealth and empire by dealing secrets on the black market of the London underworld. He is determined to take his sisters away from the depraved world they’ve known their entire lives, and the duchess is the perfect woman to help sponsor his sisters into society. The only problem is that he wants more from Georgiana, even if the social divide between them ensures she can only ever be his lover in secret.

✭ ✭ Purchase links ✭ ✭
Amazon: https://goo.gl/vgMaoC
B&N: https://goo.gl/88M4XG
iTunes: https://goo.gl/b1PyYG
Kobo: https://goo.gl/2bNQnC
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/SX7BU7

So, how did I feel about this book I received in exchange for my honest opinion? Well, it was just meh. Overall, the book was a quick, easy read with enough sex to qualify it as Scandalous. I had problems remembering how to access docs on my Kindle, and did not start this until Saturday. I finished it Saturday.

But…

The plot was weak. There were problems thrown at these characters, but they were, essentially, Deus Ex Machina‘d aside as if they were cobwebs, easily cleaned with a broom or cloth. Every.single.problem was too easily solved.

But the characters… Well, I enjoyed Rhys’ sisters. I did not particularly care for Georgiana’s family, however. Perhaps I was not meant to? As for the duchess herself? She was OK. Part of it was that she wasn’t standing up for herself with said family members. I mean, she’s a duchess, but her brother is bossing her about as if she’s living under his roof.

Would I recommend this book to others? Sure, if I think it’s their cup of tea.

✭ ✭ ✭ About the Author ✭ ✭ ✭

Stacy Reid

Stacy is an avid reader of novels with a deep passion for writing. She especially loves romance and adores writing about people falling in love. Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (out loud). She has a warrior way, never give up on her dreams. When Stacy is not writing, she spends a copious amount of time drooling over Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, watching Japanese anime and playing video games with her love.

Connect:
Site: http://www.stacyreid.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stacyreid
Twitter: https://twitter.com/st_reid
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8076768.Stacy_Reid

 

I’ve been so neglectful…

I know I’ve said this before – it’s cyclical with me. I read constantly. If it’s on my Kindle, I rate the book, but now that I have a library card again, I’m reading a lot of print books. I can’t leave stars to recommend the book. I mean, I could leave a slip of paper with a numerical rating, but…

That’s weird, right?

And when I started this blog, I specifically stated I was going to have reviews for you. But I don’t do them as often as I should. So, here are two. Now, I was supposed to have these up before noon, and I apologize that I didn’t. I actually just finished the second of the two books I agreed to review.

Right up front – let’s agree on the facts. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of both of these books in exchange for an honest review. And I’ve always been up front that I won’t sugar coat things, and I won’t agree to a minimum number of stars for a book. If you wrote a 1 star book, I’m going to give it a 1 star rating. Reviews are subjective, and personal to each individual reviewer.

My reviews will be in a separate post, of course.

 

 

Where did my GMC go?

 

Or rather, what not to do, writer edition.

If you’re a writer, I’ll bet you’ve had Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict** recommended to you as a necessary read. I mean, I know I have. As of right now, I’ve not yet made the jump and purchased it. And for the last few years I’ve – Well, I’ve not actually finished anything, have I, so perhaps that hasn’t mattered.

But now? Well, I’ve set myself a challenge – I don’t get to work on anything else until I finish the first draft of my current project. I mean, I’ll never be a published author if I don’t finish anything, will I?

And I’ve managed some really good scenes – scenes that started from a sentence or a thought or an impression, but weren’t mapped out before hand. Some of those, I’ve shared here; some I have kept to myself.

Today is about what not to do, however. Yes?

Yes. And this scene I’m sharing with you today? A great big rambling word vomit. I knew I wanted to introduce my character and hint at her problems, but I didn’t achieve any of that. Never mind that this meek girl does not exemplify my Heroine at all. It’s more than that. At least, that’s the impression I was left with upon a read through.

I’m sharing this with you because (a) I’ve completely scrapped it and (b) I think it’s a great lesson on why we need to learn and understand GMC.

What do you think?

* Of note, that is a straight link to Amazon – I am making no money on sales if you decide to purchase that book 🙂

Stokesbridge Manor
Mayfair
1812

“The music room must be opened and cleared, of course.” Lady Stokesbridge swept gracefully from the library. In the large entry hall, she glanced to the room in question, but did not enter it. The double doors, imposingly large (type of wood) and carved by hand, were flung open to air the room, but the few remaining contents were shrouded beneath (holland?) sheets.
Trailing behind her, Mary Frances recited the instructions as she noted them upon a stray bit of paper rescued from the mess that passed for Papa’s desk. “Open the music -” She stopped just short of stumbling into her mother’s back, looking up for the first time. “You cannot mean that, Mama. You cannot open the music room.”

“Why ever not, child?”

Fanny blinked rapidly as her brain fought to retrieve a plausible excuse, for she surely could not admit the truth. When she could find none, she said simply, “Must we really clear it out, Mama? The drawing room has served us well for our balls, even the magnificent crushes when Thomas was searching for a bride. ”

Where would she hide her music sheets if the room were cleared and used, she wondered. She cleared her throat. Perhaps she could bribe one of the maids to tuck the case of sheets under the bottom layer of her wardrobe. Mama hadn’t looked there yet.

Lady Stokesbridge, for her part, ignored the odd behavior of her eldest daughter. After six years of such outbursts, one became used to it. Waving away Jenkins, the butler who had come running at the outburst of voices in his silent domain, she said, “Do not be daft Fanny. Where else would we hold the ball to announce your sister’s betrothal to Braithwaite?”
Fanny blinked. Had she not already suggested the perfect location? “The drawing room, Mama,” she said, as if speaking to a small child. “Surely it is to be a small affair, after all.”
Lady Stokesbridge paused, one foot slipping down to the third step of the polished staircase that wound around the corner of hall. From that great height of three steps, she actually towered over daughter, something she had not done for ten years. She steeled her spine, as if gearing up for an argument. One dark brow quirked up, and she said, “A small affair?”
“The Duchess of Malham is having a ball that night, Mama. I told you to choose a different night.’ Her mother’s eyes narrowed, and she immediately regretted the words.

“Yes, you did, but I did not imagine that you…” Lady Stokesbridge trailed off, words failing her for the first time in many years. She tried again, but still came up with nothing more than, “That is, I -”

“I know, Mama. Justin is back in town for the season, and her grace wishes to find him another wife.” The list, long since forgotten, fell from her numb hands. Even just saying his name hurt. After six years, one would expect a girl to get over the boy who broke her heart, but Fanny had not.

“But how did you -”

“The invitation, Mama. You left it in the morning room, and Eliza showed it to me. She was quite excited to be invited to the Malham ball.”

“Yes, so she said. And when I explained we would not be attending, she was so crestfallen that I suggested we hold her betrothal ball the same night. Braithwaite might not have much of a title, but the family is well connected.”

Fanny felt a chill slither down her spine. Despite the actions of six years prior, she counted the duchess a good friend, as did Mama. And regardless of Braithwaite’s connections or her father’s money, they were not a well-connected family. She set to pacing the width of the stairs, forward seven steps, then back. “We cannot be seen as slighting your oldest friend, Mama. This will not do.”

“You’re being daft again, my dear. Charlotte will be here for the first hour, and then everyone will make their way to the Malham townhouse for her grand to-do.” Lady Stokesbridge pointed to the fallen list. “You’re much too agitated for my nerves today, girl. Take that list and get started. “

With a disdainful glare through the open doors, she added, “And do get that wonderful artist who chalked up the floors of Tindall House last week.”

From the corner of her eye, Fanny caught the barest glimpse of pale pink. That would be Mary Elizabeth, in from the garden and hoping to escape the attention of another never-ending lecture. She said the first thing that popped into her head as distraction. “I am not certain we can afford that particular artist, Mama.”

A pale blond head poked around the drawing room door, well out of sight of their mother, and tossed her a wink.

Lady Stokesbridge stilled, her rigid spine inching further erect, thought Fanny could not say how that was possible, and turned her full attention to her eldest daughter. “Not afford him? Don’t be daft. It doesn’t become you. If the Tindall’s can afford him, so can we.”
Quite true, of course. And irrelevant. Her mother would go into debt to give her younger daughter anything she desired. There was no arguing it. “Yes, Mama.”

My library

No, not the one at home. With our recent (01 April, 2017) move, all my books are pretty much still in boxes. Heck, some of those babies are still at the old place. I mean, we shared a house with my brother before buying our own, and he still lives there. And is even using some of our stuff, so… NBD? 

Yep, NBD. 

Anyway, I’m talking about our local public library. For five loooong years, we lived in an unincorporated township buried within city limits. So we were outside city limits while being surrounded by the actual city. Other than having to wait for the county sheriff department, do you know what that means? 

$80 per year to have a library card. 

Eighty dollars. 

I just couldn’t afford it – there was always something that needed that money more than the library. And I’m a huge library supporter. 

So yes, one of the first things I did was establish a library card. Yay!! 

I’m there a couple times every week or two. Lately, I’m on a huge cozy mystery kick. I especially love historical cozies (for this genre, Rhys Bowen is Queen). 

New to me are the Kate Shackleton mysteries by Frances Brody. I’m only on book 2, but that’s because I try to read in order. Very good. I definitely recommend them! 

I’ve also discovered Victoria Hamilton‘s Vintage Kitchen series lately. Ive read a few of these out of order, so I’m trying to correct that now – it might involve buying the first, but that’s perfectly fine. She has another series, that I’ve picked up a few books from. 
My favorite thing about her Vintage Kitchen sleuth? Mid-thirties (I’m early 40’s now so I can still relate), doesn’t want a career but likes to work odd jobs around her quaint Michigan village, and best of all? She’s a huge romance fan, and big names are dropped. 

So today, I brought home six cozies and one historical romance. And it’s even a new-to-me author. Kelly Bowen. 


I think I’ll start this one first. I’ll let you know what I think!

The Nearer the Dawn

So, in an effort to get back into blogging and supporting other authors, I recently joined a new Facebook group for reviewers. I’m excited for the potential to meet new authors. I’m especially excited to read their stories.

Let me start off with the “cover blurb”, as I usually do –

We all wear masks of secrecy. Some are small and insignificant while others are dark and forbidden. We wear them to mislead and deceive. It is, after all, easier to live a lie than to expose ourselves to the world. Exposure would leave us vulnerable. Yet, the truth could set us free; we hope. The moment we truly abandon all forgeries and remove our veil is the only time we can fully accept our true identity.

For Nina Luther living a lie is life in its purest form. As a child, Nina knew she and her entire family were different. The mortals who surround her, fear the unknowingness of what they will become. Nina has no such fear. She is all too aware that her time here on Earth will be plagued by her heavenly gift to help others; she despises this. All Nina desires is to be an average high school senior, but cannot hide from her divine destiny.

While adapting to her family’s recent move to Savannah, Georgia, Nina falls hard for Chase James, a mysterious loner with a dark and demonic secret of his own. 

In this world there are saints and sinners. The difference between the two: every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Who will be the last one standing? Will the demonic uprising on Earth mean the end for the mortal angel Nina? Or will she live to die another day?

 

So how did I feel about my first offering?

The Good – I love origin stories – as in all the different versions of how the world was created and all the gods and demons. J.P. Berry has a great twist on the classic, and I really enjoyed that.

The Bad – The story is predictable. You have the obligatory loner, the alpha bitch, the mouse, the jock, and the “freak” (or so she sees herself as). Beyond that, the characters just feel so one-dimensional that it’s hard to really life any of them.

The Ugly – Well, to be honest – everything except the origin story. The writing isn’t that good, and the grammar is horrible. I’m no Grammar Girl, so please take my opinion for what it is – an opinion. There were commas where there shouldn’t have been. There was an oddly placed em-dash or two. And at least one instance of tense change in a three-sentence section. Past tense to present then back to past. And the point of view used just didn’t work for me. First person is hard – I know; I don’t use it personally for that very reason. But beyond that, it was all tell and no show.

But what about the story, you ask? Well, it has so much potential that I could just cry. Like, I wanted to get into it so badly, but all the problems above just took me out of it and I couldn’t get into it at all. I’m literally on the fence with this one. Will I recommend it to others? No. But would I consider picking up the next book to see if (a) the author’s writing has improved and (2) how the story concludes? It’s entirely possible.